We went to Watts Towers on Sunday afternoon, a very warm summer Sunday in December. I had been wanting to go there for several years but there never seemed to be the right time for it. This was definitely the right time. And I was impressed with how much more amazing the structures were than anything I had seen of it in books. The intricate lacework of the towers. The transforming quality of the architecture, how I felt peace just being there. There we were in what felt like an island, or a boat floating in the middle of Los Angeles, a busy metropolis, a city that disappeared, floated away while we were there.
Simon Rodia, born around 1879 and immigrated to the U.S. in the 90’s, built the towers, beginning in 1921 and continuing for 33 years. He used no machine equipment, no scaffolding, bolts, rivets, only a tile setter’s tools and a window washer’s belt and buckle. The nine major scuptures are decorated with a mosaic of broken glass and ceramics. He was considered a crazy man, an alcoholic with wild ideas. It is thought that he built the towers as a monument of atonement, a witness to the power of belief, a prayer of and to love.
At the end of the tour the guide gave Damian a stone heart and told him: “May you have everything your heart desires.” I would add: “Take care of your heart.”